Monday, 11 May 2015

Morning briefing

Battle of the bulge.. 

Fresh from his election victory, David Cameron has an old foe in his sights: Brussels. The Prime Minister has tried to hit the ground running on his return to Downing Street, already starting talks with his European counterparts over Britain's EU membership, amid suggestions that an in-out referendum could happen as early as next year, in a story we have splashed on today: "Cameron pushes for victory in Europe". 

Boris Johnson has argued in today's Telegraph that the Tory leader will be able to sway EU leaders "because there are so many other EU governments who now agree" with him but have not said so publicly, dubbing them "shy Eurosceptics". This comes as Cameron's new cabinet continues to take shape, with a series of women - like Anna Soubry and  Andrea Leadsom - set for promotion. The rising stars will join old hands like Iain Duncan Smith and Philip Hammond, who are staying in their original jobs

The Tory leader's EU push has delighted some corners of the press, with the Daily Express declaring "at last" that "Britain to get tough with EU". However, another battle with Brussels is looming, as the Times and Guardian report that Britain may have to take in ten of thousands of refugees who've been crossing the Med under a "mandatory migrant quota system". The plan, set to be unveiled on Wednesday, would see EU member states share responsibility for "mass influxes" of non-EU migrants during times of "emergency". 

Meanwhile, the FT reports that Eastern European leaders aren't keen on Cameron trying to curtail the "sacrosanct" free movement rights for migrant workers, with one minister insisting they "cannot be touched". He is unlikely to face much trouble from Labour, as the party, still reeling from defeat, is focussed on who should replace Ed Miliband as leader. Labour's shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna, who has already been setting out his stall, warned last week that Tory rebels risked making Cameron's administration "completely ungovernable...because it will fall apart over Europe immediately".

Tory MPs will be on their best behaviour as they arrive for their first day at Westminster. Some will be waiting by their mobiles, as Cameron forms his government, hoping for a call from No 10 telling them they've become a minister (Rosa Prince will have the latest reshuffle news here). Cameron's success rests on his troops remaining warm about him. 

Up to 60 rebel Tory MPs were recently said to be preparing to demand Cameron fights for a new power for the Commons to veto any EU law - something he has previously dismissed as "impossible". Coalition cushioned Cameron from his Conservative "awkward squad", as Liberal Democrat support gave him a majority of 76. But now he has a overall majority of just 12, each MP - if disgruntled - could be a lot more awkward. 



Ed Balls will get a £88,000 'golden goodbye' for losing his seat as part of a £11.5 million package of public money handed to MPs no longer in Parliament, Ben Riley-Smith reports. The former Labour frontbencher has earned a £33,000 "resettlement" package for having served in the Commons for more than six years and £53,850 in expenses to close down his office.


David Cameron has been warned by Tory backbenchers that they can block key legislation if he does not accept their demands for defence spending to sharply rise. Conservatives want the Prime Minister to make defence the "highest priority" in the next parliament and have threatened to rebel against any proposed cuts. Here are more details.


The SNP is hopeful of winning at least one seat on every Commons select committee and the chairmanship of two as it seeks to convert its astonishing election landslide in Scotland into influence at Westminster, Simon Johnson reports. Senior Nationalist sources said its success would open up a series of parliamentary privileges it had previously been denied using the "usual channels". Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon has said the SNP is now the "principal opposition" to Conservatives, as she confirmed her party will attempt to force another referendum in Scotland.


Sally Bercow has admitted she is "a terrible wife" after she was accused of having an affair with her husband John Bercow's cousin, adding her alleged lover had left her "heartbroken", Gordon Rayner reports. Bercow did not deny cheating on her husband, the Speaker of the Commons, with Alan Bercow as she left her home without her wedding ring. The Sun reports that her relationship had been going on "for almost a year". 


The Labour leadership candidates were accused of "behaving like family members taking jewellery off a corpse" after scorning Ed Miliband less than 48 hours after his resignation. Members of the shadow cabinet lined up to criticise his approach including Chuka Umunna, the shadow business secretary, Tristram Hunt, the shadow education secretary and Liz Kendall, the shadow care minister. Read more here


Until now, Chuka Umunna has steadfastly refused to disclose the identity of his girlfriend or discuss her in public, Steven Swinford reports. But with a Labour leadership race now in full swing, he appeared to have had a change of heart as he arrived for his appearance on today's Andrew Marr show hand in hand with 30-year-old Alice Sullivan.


David Miliband will speak publicly for the first time on Monday about the General Election in which his brother Ed led the Labour Party to a dismal defeat five years after their bitter leadership contest. Amid intense speculation about his political future, the former Foreign Secretary told Philip Sherwell that he would break his silence with comments in New York, where he heads the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian relief and refugee charity.


Nick Clegg must "repay" his party for taking them into government by doing "the donkey work of being a good constituency MP" for the next five years, furious Liberal Democrats have said. Amid rumours that Clegg is considering stepping down as an MP after leading the party to electoral wipeout, Lib Dems have told Ben Riley-Smith that he must serve as a backbencher to atone for his disastrous decision to form a coalition.


George Osborne returns to the Treasury with colleagues predicting that he will deliver his second Budget of 2015 "relatively soon" to mark a distinctive new phase of his chancellorship, the FT's George Parker reports. With the Lib Dems no longer in government, the Chancellor now has the chance to deliver his first truly Conservative Budget, as well as an opportunity to make big cuts in an autumn public spending review.


Michael Gove, the new Justice Secretary, called for the return of the death penalty as a newspaper columnist, Matthew Holehouse reports. Gove said he supported the return of the noose out of "respect for democracy", and because it would force the courts to act with "scrupulous fairness".


Controversial former MP George Galloway has signalled that he is starting a legal challenge against his defeat in last week's general election. Galloway won the Bradford West seat for his Respect party in a by-election in 2012 but he was defeated by Labour's Naz Shah who secured a majority of more than 11,000 following a bitter campaign. Read more here



@MrJohnOFarrellI fear Twitter has not helped the Left since the 2010 election. We create our own digital bubble & forget that millions don't agree with us.


From The Telegraph

David Willetts - David Cameron can unleash young people's talents - by getting their wages up again

Boris Johnson - David Cameron will discover 'shy Tories' all across Europe

From elsewhere

Peter Bingle - It was the chancellor wot won it

Guy Opperman - Why did the Conservatives win?The evidence is clear to see


Eurogroup meeting of eurozone finance ministers to take place in Brussels

12:00 UK interest rate decision to be announced by the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee 

Jeremy Vine to host a special 'Panorama Live' from Westminster looking at the results of the General Election

21:00 A new series of 'Benefits Street' to begin on Channel 4

22:40 The Agenda with Tom Bradby, featuring Labour MP Tristram Hunt 

Five years since David Cameron became Prime Minister


No business

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